Many foreign nationals want to relocate to the United States and enjoy the country’s strong economy, political stability, high standard of living, and delightful culture. Perhaps the best way to obtain permanent resident status in the United States is to participate in the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. The EB-5 program, which has been active since 1990, allows foreign nationals to obtain green cards by investing in qualifying U.S. enterprises. EB-5 investments stimulate the U.S. economy by creating a source of reliable, legal funds for businesses in need. Moreover, the successful, high-net-worth individuals who participate in the EB-5 program become valuable assets to the country. After gaining their green cards, EB-5 investors may eventually apply to become U.S. citizens.
If you are interested in making an EB-5 investment to obtain permanent resident status, keep in mind that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sets out several requirements for EB-5 investors. All EB-5 investors must be in a position to make the EB5 investment and cover the associated fees. Further, they must be able to invest funds that remain at risk and create the required number of jobs. USCIS also requires investors to provide exhaustive documentation proving that their funds were sourced legally—if investors cannot submit the needed proof, then USCIS will deny their visa petitions.
Additionally, EB5 investments can be made either directly or through a USCIS-approved regional center. In the direct investment model, investors can only count directly created jobs given to full-time workers. Typically, individuals who make a direct EB5 investment are much more involved in the day-to-day operations of the business. In contrast, EB-5 investments made through regional centers allow investors to count direct, indirect, and induced jobs, thus making it easier to meet the employment creation criteria.
In light of the complexity of the EB-5 program and the many different ways to make an EB-5 investment, interested individuals would do well to enlist the services of an immigration attorney and EB-5 consultants. The following overview shows how individuals can obtain permanent resident status through an EB-5 investment.
1. Identify a Suitable EB-5 Investment Opportunity
Investors can choose between a direct investment or a regional center project. Note that the minimum required investment amount is $1,000,000. However, projects located in targeted employment areas (TEAs) have a reduced minimum required amount of only $500,000. TEAs either have high unemployment rates or are rural. EB-5 investors should choose projects with promising job creation potential.
2. Transfer the Investment Funds
Before transferring the funds to the project’s account, EB-5 investors must make sure that they are ready to document the sources of their funds. USCIS will ask them to trace the invested funds back to their sources in great detail. As previously mentioned, the funds must remain at risk once they are invested.
3. Submit Form I-526
Once an investor has transferred the funds to the project’s account and made sure that they are in compliance with all USCIS regulations, it is time to file Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Investor. In this petition, investors submit evidence that they have followed all USCIS regulations governing the source of funds, investment amounts, job creation, and other factors. Note that the EB-5 investment must be made before the filing of Form I-526. Typically, an investor’s immigration attorney files the I-526 petition for them. The adjudication process for most I-526 petitions may take between two to five years, depending on the investor’s country of origin.
4. Obtain Conditional Permanent Residence
Once USCIS approves the I-526 petition, an investor can apply for conditional permanent resident status by sending Form DS-260 to the National Visa Center. Investors who already have an immigrant visa must instead submit Form I-845. This conditional permanent resident status will last for two years.
5. Submit Form I-829
Within the last 90 days of their conditional permanent residency, investors must file Form I-829, Petition by Investor to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status. In this petition, investors submit further proof that they have fulfilled all USCIS criteria. Once the form is approved, the investor and their immediate family receive permanent resident status. In five years, they will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.
The EB-5 visa process can be complex, but investors who obtain permanent residency always find that their efforts were worthwhile. Further, EB-5 professionals can provide you with invaluable guidance and simplify the process significantly.